Every year when I remind friends and family about where I’m heading the second weekend of June, I get the same reaction: their eyes light up, their tongues brush against their lips in a fit of savory jealousy and a collective “ooooh” is moaned. It’s really no surprise that every year, New Glarus’ Beer, Bacon & Cheese Fest, a four-hour event tucked inside the annual three-day Polkafest, continues to gain in popularity and steal the show from the time-honored fest that caters more to the long-time locals.
In fact, some might argue that BB&C has outgrown the downtown area in which it’s been hosted the past four years. Not only has the number of vendors steadily increased, but so have the amount of tickets sold, making for long lines to first obtain your fest wristband, use the bathrooms and then enjoy the many splendors that await you. With such great people and amazing beer and food lining the streets, the wait times are soon a distant memory though.
Despite an overcast sky, high humidity and occasional light showers, it was all too easy to get swept up in the many indulgences that I’ve come to look forward to each year. The juicy brats and sweet, creamy fudge from local shops Ruef’s Meat Market and Maple Leaf Cheese & Chocolate Haus. Culver’s maple bacon custard. Chunks of perfectly grilled pork from the Wisconsin Pork Association. A virtually endless selection of flavored popcorn and melt-in-your-mouth cheese from nearby Monroe’s Rainbow Confections and Alp and Dell.
And who could forget the beer. With New Glarus Brewing Company as the official sponsor each year, I always look forward to washing down cheese and bacon with their signature brews. This year, attendees were treated to pours of their limited release R&D Vintage 2014 Gueze. I can say without shame that I stood in line at least five times for this sublimely sour masterpiece. With BB&C being such a huge draw, more and more Wisconsin craft breweries have requested booth space (18 poured their brews this year). One of the most eye-opening newcomers was The Hop Garden out of nearby Paoli. Their hop-forward IPAs and pales stood out from the other breweries and created a buzz among the crowd.